Chapter 1 ......Koala Kapers
If the indignation of the Australian public was roused when the then Federal Minister of Tourism, John Brown, referred to the country‘s beloved symbol , the koala bear as “a dirty piddly little animal”, it paled when the home of the koala was about to sold to Japanese interests . Brown of course was only squaring off with his little marsupial friend, who in a recent publicity shot aimed at the overseas tourist market, ( with the Minister, ) had seized the moment and piddled all down the front of his suit. Naturally enough many Australians, saw the funny side and gave Brown something of a hard time. Some wags in the community thought our little koala friend should have taken it a stage further; such is the capacity of Australians for making light of the discomforts of their politicians.
Nobody it seems has a greater fascination for the Australian koala than the Japanese, a fact that former the Premier of Queensland Sir Joh Bjelke Petersen employed to good use when he donated gifts of these little animals to the Japanese people. Mindful of the tremendous potential markets opening up in Japan Sir Joh recognised the value of the koala as a means to forging public relations and closer economic ties. In those days Sir Joh was at the forefront of developing trade with Japan and whilst his old sparing partner Tom Burns often chided him about this trend and his association with Japanese businessmen, the days of real opposition had not dawned. Initially these gifts that went to a Tokyo zoo, met with limited success; there were casualties. Stress and an alien environment took their toll, despite the care and attention they received. In a country where money could buy almost anything, where technology is an art form the Japanese could not play God.
Australia, a home to many unique animals, two of which feature on the nation‘s coat of arms ,the kangaroo and emu, has a special niche for its koala. In a sense it is almost sacrosanct,...a bit like Fosters or Arnott's...God help anyone that touches it. Never-the-less the koala has attracted attention as long as there has been tourism in this country. The Japanese love them which has given rise to a profitable market. One business that generated such a market was the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary and that was about to be sold...to the Japanese!